UIP has canceled the Japan release of “Evan Almighty,” company sources have announced. The pic was skedded to be released nationwide in September, including the Miyukiza theater in central Tokyo. No reason for the cancellation was given, though the pic’s anemic B.O. in the U.S., as well as the tough market in Japan for Hollywood comedies, may have been factors.
Also, though “Bruce Almighty” earned Y10 billion ($8.2 million) in Japan, star Jim Carrey was a far better known name to Japanese fans than “Evan Almighty” topliner Steve Carell, whose breakthrough “The 40 Year Old Virgin” did not get a theatrical release in Japan and whose series “The Office” has yet to air on Japanese TV. Carell’s indie hit “Little Miss Sunshine” did open in the territory, but made only a tiny fraction of its U.S. total.
Finally, “Evan” producer Universal announced in February that it would turn over its Japan slate to Toho Towa. The first Toho Towa release of a UIP pic will be “The Bourne Ultimatum” in November. Toho Towa plans to release six Universal pics by May of 2008 and 14 altogether, including “Mr. Bean’s Holiday,” “American Gangster,” “Elizabeth: the Golden Age” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.”
Now that its dealings with Universal are drawing to a close, UIP seems to be concentrating on its remaining Paramount pics — and not placing its corporate bets on riskier Universal product, including “Evan Almighty.”